Luca Manfé, Italian chef and cookbook author

Italian-born chef Luca Manfé grew up in the restaurant business and moved to the U.S. more than a decade ago to pursue his dream of being a restaurateur. Currently in Houston, where he runs Italian food truck The Lucky Fig, he’s excited to share his favorite Houston eats (including pasta, of course) brought to you by the makers of PEPCID®, helping food lovers explore great tastes without the fear of heartburn.

  • Houston’s Best Pasta

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① Hunky Dory Tavern

I love the word tavern—and the idea of eating in a restaurant with a relaxed, homey atmosphere minus the stuffy white linen. Hunky Dory smells—and looks—like a cabin in the mountains with smoky flavors from the grill mixed with a chill yet classy British pub feel. The Silver Salver is a must: a selection of house-made terrines, pâté and cured meats with cheese, relishes and pickles.

Photo: Hunky Dory Tavern | Houston Chronicle

② Pax Americana

Situated in historical Montrose, Pax Americana is a great example of Houston’s contemporary cuisine. I’m always impressed by the chef’s ability to combine classic Texas flavors with seasonal, local ingredients and innovative techniques. The most famous dish is a nine-spice smoked brisket, and when you become a regular, you’ll be treated to off-menu creations, too.

Photo: Pax Americana

③ The Pass

The Pass offers adventurous, reasonably priced five- or eight-course contemporary American tasting menus ($75 and $95, plus pairings) in an upscale environment with an open kitchen, so you have full view of the chefs at work. The best thing I ever ate there was a smoked veal breast with sweetbreads and celery root, but I always get excited to try their modern twists on classic Italian pastas.

Photo: The Pass & Provisions

④ Izakaya

Japanese tapas spot Izakaya opened last year and has quickly become one of the busiest and most famous in town. Everything on the menu is unique and delicious, but my favorites are the Texas Quail Scotch Eggs served with a sesame vinaigrette and the Duck and Shrimp Shumai with habanero sauce.

Photo: Izakaya
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⑤ Kata Robata

Izakaya’s older sister restaurant, Kata Robata, serves French-Japanese fusion. But unlike other fusion spots, where the menu is more confusion than anything else, the restaurant has nailed this combination. When you try the hotate nigiri—scallop sushi—topped with sautéed foie gras, you’ll understand what I mean.

Photo: Kata Robata

⑥ B&B Butchers

With a butcher shop in the front that specializes in hard-to-find cuts and a New York-style steakhouse in the back, B&B Butchers is unlike any other place in the city. In the dining room, the incredible steaks and raw bar are accompanied by beautiful views of Downtown Houston. I highly recommend the Filet Mignon “Carpet Bagger”-style with blue cheese and fried oysters and brisket ravioli.

Photo: B&B Butchers

⑦ Common Bond

There are only a few words to describe Common Bond: best bread in Houston. And, actually, some of the best bread I have ever tasted. It&s also famous for the flavored lattes, vibrant desserts and macaroons. Just be sure to get there before 2 p.m., because almost everything runs out pretty fast!

Photo: Common Bond